What is search intent?

what is search intent

SEO is an effective way to boost your website’s traffic. By ranking high on Google, you can attract more people to visit your site. Search intent can be used to optimize articles for increased organic traffic.

What is search intent?

Search intent (or user intent, audience intent) is the terminology used to define the purpose of a search. It’s the primary reason why someone conducts a particular search. Everyone who searches is expecting to find something. Typically someone searches because they have a question and want an answer. Maybe they are looking to visit a specific website. Or are searching because they want to buy something. These different types of searches form parts of the user journey.

Google has improved its algorithm to figure out people’s search intent. Search engines like Google want their algorithms to deliver results that best fit the keywords and what a user is looking for on specific searches. That way, they can make sure users get relevant content with every click.

Why does search intent matter?

Google wants to provide users with the most relevant result for their query. This means creating content that aligns with search intent and is the important first step towards ranking in Google.

Four types of search intent

Search intent refers to the purpose of your customer’s search. Four types typically come up in SEO:

Informational intent

Informational intent is when people are looking for information on the internet. People with informational intents have a specific question or want to know more about a particular topic, ranging from details regarding weather forecasts to educational materials around SEO and beyond.

Google understands that people are looking for recipes, not the sauce’s history. It also knows most people searching Mercury want to know about the planet and not its element. 

Navigational intent

Navigational intent is when people have the intent to visit a specific site. For example, people who search for [Twitter] are usually looking to log in to the Twitter website.

Transactional intent

Transactional intent is when people search the web to buy stuff online.

Commercial Investigation

Commercial intent is when someone is researching the brand name to complete a transaction, interview for a job, decide whether or not to make a charitable donation, and so on. 

Keyword intent

The search queries people use will give insight into their intent. This works the other way around, too – when you formulate keywords with intent-specific terms.

Search intent modifiers: How to optimize for search intent
Search Intent Modifiers

How to optimize your content for search intent

Be sure to match the search intent of your audience. If people are searching for information, don’t show them a product page immediately. You want it clear that you’re selling products at first glance because you’ll scare away potential customers if they aren’t interested in buying something right off the bat.

Optimizing your product pages for more commercial-driven keywords is a good idea. If you sell vitamins, you could, for instance, optimize a category page (product) with [buying vitamins]. Perhaps also have an article about administering vitamin supplements optimized to the search term: how do I give my pup her daily supplement?

When determining the search intent of a query, it can be unclear. However, you should look to your SERP results as they will tell whether or not users land on similar pages due to different user intents but landing on the same page from keywords. Use this source for guidance in creating content that is based on specific intents and focus areas. 

To get a better idea of what people are searching for, you could ask them. You can create an informal survey containing questions about their search intent and have it pop up on your website if someone enters the site. That’ll give you insight into your audience’s behavior that is likely to be insightful!

The Takeaway

It’s vital to ensure that your writing content fits the search topic people are searching for. Make sure your post or page is informative when people are looking for information and leads them towards sales pages if they want to buy one of your products.

About the author
Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is SEO Freelancer in Ottawa, where he helps clients plan marketing goals that are keyword-optimized and measurable.

He has worked at Microsoft, The institute of chartered accountants in Australia, Auto Trader, Le Cordon Bleu, and Algonquin College in various Digital Marketing Roles.

Isaac is qualified as a Full-stack developer, Server Administrator, and cyber security expert, adding additional experience to his Search Engine Optimization knowledge.

His Inuit heritage brought him to the Arctic to hunt and fish for most summers, which grew his passion for 4-wheelers and dirtbikes.